Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Winston-Salem State Picked to Win CIAA Football Title Over Virginia State and Put Cancelled 2013 Championship Game in the Past

Winston-Salem State QB Rudy Johnson (Photo from freenorthcarolina.blogspot.com)
The end of the 2013 football season is one the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association wants to leave deep into the past.

What looked to be an epic battle between 9-1 teams, Virginia State and Winston Salem State, didn't even get played.  A day before the game, Winston Salem State star quarterback Rudy Johnson was assaulted in the bathroom during a pre-championship game luncheon by a group of Virginia State players.  One, Lamont Britt, was arrested and pled guilty.  He received a year of probation.

But the conference title game was canceled by CIAA officials because of the incident.

This year, things have been put into place to make sure none of that happens again, said CIAA commissioner Jacqie McWiliams during the CIAA's Media Day.

"Canceling the 2013 championship game was a dark day in the history for us in this conference," she said.  "However, we believe what we learned that day reminded us of what we need to be focused on and what is most important, and that's the welfare and experience of our student-athletes.

"So what happened last year will never happen again," she said.  "We have a no-tolerance policy.  We are moving forward, focusing on developing leadership, sportsmanship and academic success that is in line with our strategic thinking."

Interestingly, a poll of CIAA coaches and sports information directors predicted Winston-Salem State and Virginia State to win the Northern and Southern divisions and meet in the 2014 CIAA championship game, with Winston-Salem being the favorite to win their third title in four seasons.   It's also a team looking to make a deeper run in the Division II playoffs after losing in the second round last year.

"I've been more fearful of our battles inside the conference, and that's a credit to all of you guys in this league," said new head coach Kienus Boulware during the CIAA Media Day, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.  Boulware, the former defensive coordinator, replaces Connell Maynor who took the head job at Hampton.

"I think back to 2011 when we first made that run in the playoffs," Boulware said.  "We've had some major battles within the conference, and that's helped up.  And we had a lot of major battles last season."

Boulware takes over a squad that has six players on the CIAA's preseason All-Conference squad, including Johnson, the CIAA's leading passer in yardage, touchdowns and completion percentage.  But his leading receiver, 2013 CIAA Offensive Rookie of the Year Chase Powell, surprised everyone last week and transferred to Hampton.  He will have leading rusher, Maurice Lewis, to hand off to.  Lewis had 902 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns last season.

For Virginia State, linebacker Brandon Robinson and defensive lineman Ronald Lewis, two 2014 Preseason All-CIAA picks, return to Trojans' second-ranked defense.  They have to replace their two top offensive players in quarterback Justin Thorpe and running back Jordan Anderson. But the Trojans do return 27 players from their two-deep roster.

Here is the CIAA's predicted order of finish:

1.    Winston-Salem State
2.    Fayetteville State
3.    Virginia State
4.    Shaw
5.    Elizabeth City State
6.    Bowie State
7.    Johnson C. Smith
8.    Chowan
9.    Saint Augustine's
10.    Virginia Union
11.    Livingstone
12.    Lincoln
Southern Division
1.    Winston-Salem State
2.    Fayetteville State
3.    Shaw
4.    Johnson C. Smith
5.    Saint Augustine's
6.    Livingstone
Northern Division
1.    Virginia State
2.    Elizabeth City State
3.    Bowie State
4.    Chowan
5.    Virginia Union
6.    Lincoln
Here is the 2014 CIAA Preseason All-Conference Team:

86Khari LeeBSUSRBaltimore, Maryland
71Marcus ReedFSUSRMontgomery, Texas
79Ronnie RansomeVSUJRPetersburg, Virginia
75Jahmil HaleyVSUSOPetersburg, Virginia
72Michael SabbWSSUSRRaleigh, North Carolina
52Justin KeeWSSUSRSuffolk, Virginia
4Akeen JordanLUSRWashington, D.C.
82Chase PowellWSSUSOUpper Marlboro, Maryland
7Rudy JohnsonWSSUSRSan Diego, California
7Marquise GrizzleSUJRCamden, North Carolina
5Keith BrownBSUSRTemple Hills, Maryland
2Antonio HuffECSUJRWashington, D.C.
89Mario Diaz-AvilesBSUSRWashington, D.C.
10Anthony McDanielBSUSRFt. Washington, Maryland
33Jovantey WilliamsJCSUSRStone Mountain, Georgia
43Ronald LewisVSUSRVirginia Beach, Virginia
93Casey DavenportWSSUSRBaltimore, Maryland
33Kenneth WhiteLCSRSalisbury, North Carolina
45Brandon RabinsonVSUSRMechanicsville, Virginia
59Danny BunnWSSUJRSmithfield, North Carolina
18Michael JohnsonFSUSRRaleigh, North Carolina
3Corey DavisECSUSRUnion, New Jersey
1Brion RobinsonLUJRPG County, Maryland
1Everett RoctorWSSUSRFayetteville, North Carolina
2Antonio HuffECSUJRWashington, D.C.
17Matias LambrechtJCSUSOVenice, Florida

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